by Wendy Howard
Published by RedefinED
Editor’s note: Wendy Howard is executive director of the Florida Alliance for Choices in Education, which includes a broad range of school choice organizations. The views expressed here are her own and not that of FACE.
Four years after my daughter Jessica Howard began a petition drive to make it easier for students to access virtual education in Florida, she is still not eligible for the virtual provider of her choice. No wonder so many parents settle for learning options that may not necessarily be the best option. There is so much bureaucracy and public attack if a parent merely wants more choice.
As a parent advocate, I have met many parents who are desperate for just that.
One told me her child wrote a suicide note after severe bullying at her school, but fortunately everything turned out okay after they found another option. Another couldn’t transfer her child to a virtual school – despite severe allergies – because of the “seat time” restrictions that were in place at the time. Instead, she had to access a district’s “hospital homebound” program, which cost taxpayers an exorbitant amount of money.
In other cases, parents have children who are failing in the system, or are far ahead of the system, or are pursuing athletic or professional careers that require some reasonable flexibility with academic schedules. There are endless reasons why some families want to choose schools outside of their traditional zoned school, or prefer Option X to Option Y, or want to mix and match those options so their kids can thrive.
All of those parents and their stories have made me wonder: Why can’t we just let all parents decide? Why are we limiting their choices?
Why not all parents, all choices?